By Vicki Barnes
There is a great variety of food in Costa Rica. Most of the locals (Ticos and Ticas) stick to the basics. At home or in the small, inexpensive restautants along any road (sodas), they stick with the typical dish.
Pretty much anywhere you go in Costa Rica, the lunch or dinner menu is casado.
Casado with chicken. Casado with pork. Casado with fish. Casado with steak. Even casado with vegetables (see photo – beans and rice with veggies and a salad with a side of veggies!). At one of the roadside restaurants you can find a heaping plate for $4 or less.
Of course, you could go for Wendy’s, Taco Bell, McDonalds, Burger King or the Tico fast food place called Pops. Or, you could go to a more upscale restaurant and order something more familiar to you, but if you want to eat like a local (I always do), plop yourself down and have a heaping plate of rice, beans, cabbage salad, plantains, bread and the meat (or added veggies) of your choice.
The word “casado” means “married man”. An odd name for food, but when we questioned it on a trip to Costa Rica a few years back, it was explained very simply: When a man is single, he can have whatever he wants for dinner…fast food, a sandwich…whatever. Once he is married, he will eat the same thing every night for dinner for the rest of his life.
The beans are prepared pretty much as they are for Gallo Pinto (see the recipe here), but they are not mixed with the rice. The veggies are raw or lightly steamed. If you have meat, it is roasted or baked – never fried.
Sometimes, if there are Americans, your hosts will add french fries to the dish. (I guess they think it’s what we eat with everything!) If you stick to the traditional dish, you can’t go wrong in terms of taste or your health.